The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other


I’ve been to a few concerts lately. I’m always slightly irritated by the constant digital camera screens being held up to take pictures. It’s distracting.

It’s not a big deal, but I think if does reveal how we’re ever more becoming observers in life a not participants. I find this true for me too. I don’t know quite why that is.

Observing is a distancing thing, an investment thing (an ironic thing?). By observing, I’m less invested, and less culpable, have less to lose. I’m “looking over my own shoulder”—as Annie Dillard put it. I remember times in life where I was constantly removing myself into observing because I needed to divest and keep my life from being as disappointing as it felt. But what did I lose, even then, when I was trying to cut my losses?

Interestingly, now, while my life is far from perfect and I can think of ways I’d like to be happier, I’m more of a participant in my life than I used to be. And this makes me wonder if my unhappiness is real, or if I feel it more precisely because I’d participating in my life instead of observing it.

Is it better to be an observer and feel less, or to be a participant and feel more?